Monthly Archives: October 2022

Back in the Saddle – Business Travel / Flying in 2022

After seven (short) years I find myself traveling for work / business frequently enough to earn status with airlines and hotels. Business travels is really different than before but I think it’s due to the pandemic.

Here is what I’ve noticed is different:

  1. Red eyes on Monday morning and Friday evening flights are a mix of men, women, and children. Not just business men.
  2. Airports aren’t that busy.
  3. Far fewer business travelers – it seems.
  4. Flying during the pandemic before the vaccine was the most amazing experience ever.

Some further explanations:

Airports used to be filled with dudes flying for work. It sucked. These dudes had their logo wear, their status, and were impatient as hell. They had no qualms about cutting in line or being dicks, in general. I think it’s because they knew they’d never see the people around them ever again. It sucked. It was especially bad on early morning and late evening flights. Now, it’s a diverse mix of individuals. I’m sitting here at MSP at 5:35AM and I see leisure travelers, families with very small children, lots of women business travelers, and only a handful of dudes in their logo wear like me.

In the past I seem to remember like 78-85% dudes tutting about in their logo wear. And for the remaining individuals, it seemed like travel was so new they forgot how to human – they’d stand in a aisles, stand at the end of escalators, block exits and generally look like a deer in headlights. It sucked. Looking around it seems like logo wearing business traveler dudes like me are maybe 30% of the crowd?

Airports aren’t too bad now. Sure, there are some bad times but the waiting and the general sea of people seems to be diminished a bit. It’s not great but it’s also not horrible like I remember.

Lastly, it appears as though flying during the pandemic is going to be one of the most memorable experiences ever. No one was at the airports, planes were empty (empty middle aisle!!), nothing was open at the airport, every rental car was available, it was stupid cheap to fly – I bought a round trip ticket to Denver from MSP for $49, and it was quiet. It was amazing. I didn’t mind the mask mandates and the strictness. Had the pandemic been worse for someone like me I’m pretty sure I’d be hanging out at the airport since it was the only place people took the prevention steps seriously – airlines handing out lifetime bans is quite the incentive to behave.

What about the similarities? The only thing I can tell that is similar is the line at any place serving coffee. Easily 20-40 people waiting at caribou, Starbucks, etc., in the early morning. Makes sense, we are only human :).

I put some photos I like from my flights over the last handful of years. I don’t mind this business travel stuff so much, certainly nowhere near my dislike I had for it seven years ago. It’s kinda fun now; instead of work travel being a 2/10 it’s closer to a 6/10 for me.

The Driftless 2022

We ‘found’ a new part of Minnesota which checks all of our boxes: decent hiking, great, views, reasonable cost, decent amenities and it’s not too far from the twin cities!

The area is called ‘The Driftless’ because it remained unglaciated during the last ice age and has some very unique scenery, animal life, and geographical features – like an utter lack of lakes. I had heard about the area but only heard about the bike trail through the Lanesboro area, I had no idea the Driftless extended to Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. We explored the Rushford, Houston, Lanesboro and surrounding area and had a blast.

The surprises were many: the hiking in Great River Bluffs State Park was wonderful, the Amish desserts / baked items sold on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere was wonderful, there are at least two very fun caves to visit, and the restaurants were halfway decent too!

We visited Niagara Cave (narrow and tall) and Mystery Cave (wide and short) – both were awesome for different reasons. It was neat to learn how the water run off made the caves in the area.

We visited the Driftless because the fall colors were completely missing on the north shore. We were still a bit early for the fall colors in southern Minnesota but we did see some fall colors and it was delightful.

The best part of the entire trip was the utter lack of people and low cost of lodging, food, and activities. We go to the North Shore every year and it’s usually wonderful! Since COVID kicked off the North Shore has remained stunningly beautiful and wonderful to visit but lodging, food, and activities have become super expensive and 100% not worth it. It’s now more economical to fly somewhere cool for a short weekend then go to the North Shore. I think I’m sensitive to ripping off tourists simply because I grew up in a tourist trap that offered a terrible deal for a tourist’s money – this year was the year where I finally gave up on paying North Shore rates – we did not get 40% more enjoyment out of the lodging costing 40% more this year versus last.

We are beyond excited to find a new place to explore. Next year we plan on exploring some of the Wisconsin Driftless.

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.